By Susan F. Witzell, Archivist
I was asked to write something about the history of the Fishmonger, the restaurant which has been in existence since the early 1970s at the Woods Hole drawbridge. Last year it went out of business and the restaurant has become the Water Street Kitchen. Frances Buehler still owns the building.
Nick Witzell, Bill Dyer and Rollie Beliveau talked to me about their memories of the place. Tom Renshaw, at my request, wrote an extensive piece on the history of the building and restaurant. There was more detail in this than I could use but I am very grateful to Tom for setting down all this important information for the record.
These recollections are those of men in their 60s and 70s, so please be forgiving of inaccuracies and let me know if you have corrections or more information.
The building that has been home to the Fishmonger restaurant has had a long and varied history. It dates back to at least the 1880s when it shows up on the Bird’s Eye View Map of Woods Hole of 1887. On that map it is labeled “E.F. Donnelly – Fruit, Confectionary, Tobacco & Reading Material.”
Like many properties around Great Harbor the lot on which the building stood was owned by Walter O. Luscombe. By the teens and 1920s it was the Sea Robin Tea Room, a popular type of destination for ladies at the time. Beyond it right by the bridge was the first of many barber shops in that location, originally built out on pilings over the water. Al Blanchard was the last of them in that building.
In the 1920s on the east end in the rear section of the building was The Bookstore, which was also a publisher and printer of handsome small booklets, brochures, illustrations and maps, many of them done by talented local artist R.L. Dickinson. This back area eventually became an ice cream parlor. Continue reading